Oklahoma City Public Schools suing to prevent substantial tax dollar shift to charter schools

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Public Schools filed a petition in court to prevent a large tax dollar shift from public schools to charter schools.

Trent Smith – Gov. Kevin Stitt’s newest appointee to the State Board of Education – made a surprise motion to change the way tax dollars flow to charter schools.

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Trent Smith

That motion passed, which will cause property tax dollars to be equally distributed among public and charter schools, including virtual schools like Epic Charter Schools.

Charter schools do not receive money for facilities and officials from those schools argue they’ve been chronically under-funded. Charter schools, however, can operate with significantly less oversight than public schools and don’t have to offer the same services.

Officials from charter schools can choose not to transport students and follow their own curriculum and hiring policies.

Oklahoma City Public Schools leadership said they are seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction to stop the state board from implementing the new funding plan for charter schools to protect students from funding cuts.

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OKCPS officials released the following statement on filing the petition:

“On March 31, 2021, OKCPS, as an intervening defendant, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, a Petition for Cross Claims against the Oklahoma State Board of Education (“State Board”). After no activity in the case for a year, the State Board took unexpected, sudden and unlawful action on March 25 to seek to equalize funding among charter schools, including virtual charter schools. A resolution was passed which seemed to be an attempt to settle the lawsuit, although the two intervening parties, OKCPS and TPS were unaware of the proposed resolution.

Although our District leadership had requested that the State Board reconsider and rescind its recent action in order to avoid this additional legal step, there has been no movement. So, in order to further protect the interests of our students, the District now seeks a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction to restrain the State Board from implementing the attempted settlement. Additionally, the District requests that the Court issue a writ of prohibition against the State Board for exceeding its authority and make a determination as to the appropriate interpretation and application of the laws regarding the funding of public school districts and charter schools.

It is unfortunate that because of the State Board’s overreaching action we are forced to continue directing our limited time and resources to address an issue that is clearly unlawful and not in the best interest of the more than 700,000 students who attend traditional public schools in Oklahoma. OKCPS remains committed to protecting the financial resources necessary to serve our students.”

OKLAHOMA CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATEMENT

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is on record saying the funding change is unconstitutional because taxpayers lose control over how their education dollars are spent.

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